COVID-19 pub closures 'will waste 87 million pints of beer'

Suban Abdulla
·3 min read
During the first lockdown, 70 million pints of beer were thrown away, according to industry figures. Photo: Getty
During the first lockdown, 70 million pints of beer were thrown away, according to industry figures. Photo: Getty

The coronavirus pandemic which has wreaked havoc on many industries could also see 87 million pints of beer thrown out due to the lockdown, which closed pubs in the UK.

According to figures from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) the “heartbreaking” waste is equivalent to £331m ($453.2m) in sales.

It said that during the first lockdown, 70 million pints of beer were thrown away.

The BBPA said that due to that publicans were more aware of the risk of wastage — and amid ongoing lockdowns and tougher restrictions — pub owners bought less stock after reopening.

As a result, 7 million pints were wasted when England went into its second lockdown in November last year. The BBPA expects another 10 million pints of beer wasted during the current lockdown.

Currently, barrelled beer that hasn’t been sold by its best-before date has to be returned to breweries and thrown out.

For most most lagers and pasteurised beers — this is usually about three to four months after they have been delivered to pubs. The timescale is usually around six to nine weeks, for real ales and other unpasteurised beer.

BBPA’s chief executive, Emma McClarkin called on the government to provide more help for pub owners in the chancellor’s March Budget.

WATCH: How many pubs, restaurants and clubs closed their doors permanently in 2020

READ MORE: CBI calls for post-lockdown roadmap to help UK businesses reopen

She has urged the extending the VAT cut for the hospitality sector. McClarkin has asked chancellor Rishi Sunak to keep the current 5% VAT rate for the sector in place after pubs reopen — instead of the usual 20%.

The chief exec has also called for an extension of the business holiday rate, which is due to end at the end of this financial year.

COVID-19 which has hammered the hospitality sector, could see pubs and restaurants face a longer route back to normality than other industries hit by periods of closure and loss of income.

It comes as business groups have called on the government to provide a clear exit plan out of lockdown to help businesses reopen.

The Confederation for British Industry (CBI) has urged the government to work with business to best identify economy-critical factors to its roadmap out of the latest COVID-19 lockdown in England.

The business group’s calls come as the government prepares to publish an exit strategy in late February.

In a letter to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, the CBI has set out six elements that will help firms plan and prepare in advance of a lifting of restrictions. It says it will also write a letter to the devolved nations government’s next week.

Alongside the roadmap, CBI is also calling for “clear parameters for determining” what, and for how long, economic support measures will be available.

“The plans should develop in lockstep, to ensure that key support measures taper away, without a cliff-edge, ensuring that support is progressively targeted on those sectors that remain closed for longest,” CBI said.

WATCH: Should I pay off debt or save money during the coronavirus pandemic?